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Openness and transparency are more common, informal leadership becomes more important and the professional that can bring people together is the dream. These are the most important leadership trends for 2018.

Changes in the EU, Trump’s election, elections in different major hubs in the world. International politics keeps us on our toes. Against this background, a new cabinet in the Netherlands gets a fresh start. Many organizations experience turbulent times. New techniques and never-ending changes towards more flexibility and efficiency ask a lot from organizations and their leaders. Dealing with complexity and insecurity will be more important than ever in 2018 for leaders. They face the following trends.

Make room for the informal leader

Teams become bigger. Organizations seek more autonomy in teams and individuals. They appoint less managers and often work with ad hoc ‘project teams’. The ‘big boss’ managing teams from his office becomes rare. Informal leaders take their place. They take over the coordination of work, sometimes at their own initiative, sometimes temporarily.

It’s not easy

But, informal leadership can be very challenging. Project managers and professionals who become informal leaders, have to find a way to encourage colleagues to show certain behaviour. They don’t have any formal authority. Are they ‘bosses’ that tell people what to do? Or are they coaches or mentors? They will have to figure this out themselves, with their colleagues. They have to develop certain relationships. While keeping in mind that these relationships can change in a heartbeat.

Why do we do what we do?

“All too often we forget why we work and what our job means to us”, says British philosopher Alain de Botton. He joins author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek who wrote the best seller: ‘Start With Why’. In recent years Simon Sinek became one of the most popular management authors. In uncertain times the bigger picture becomes more important. Changing organizations with varying leadership, need to have a strong vision. To guide independent teams into the right directions. But also to keep focus on the organization’s ambition in (often changing) relation to other organizations. Organizations, teams, divisions - they all try hard to tell their story: what is our purpose? Why do we do what we do?

Developing professionals is a priority

Internal training and development used to be aimed mainly on management. But slowly talented professionals get equal attention. ICT experts, other technical experts but also legal advisers and financial whizz kids are very valuable to an organization. They are offered more career opportunities for example, to stop them from moving on. But, technical expertise alone is not enough. Being able to co-operate effectively with people both inside and outside the organization is a must as well.

The promised land

The professional who can take initiative, who can build a great network and who can manage projects, is the promised land. They are rare in the employment market. So there is work to be done!

More transparency is a must

New governance rules in many industries dictate more transparency. But companies were already focused on this. In a horizontal organization with independent professionals the only option is: sharing as much information as you can. Professionals need this information to align their work - with each other and with the organization’s mission. Transparency does not happen overnight. Companies need to make an extra effort to organise this. It affects different positions, like risk management, HR and the board. They all have to give careful thought to their changing positions.

The ‘undercurrent’ and ‘overcurrent’ mingle

In management there is always a lot of attention to the ‘undercurrent’ or ‘overcurrent’. In a crisis people tend to look at the visible ‘overcurrent’ of production and profit levels and the concrete contribution of organizations and divisions. Other times people focus on the less visible, subtler ‘undercurrent’ of motivation, commitment and culture. Today, both currents can mingle more. High performance leadership show that both currents can be developed at the same time. The influence they have on one another can be used to create a stronger leadership approach.

Passionate people and a positive culture lead to better results. People are more motivated, are in a better ‘flow’ and focus on the best result.

Who you are as a leader determines your success. Would you like to develop yourself as a manager or leader? In our Tailor Made programs and in our traning Transparent International Leadership we challenge you to take your leadership to the next level.

Join us on 4 September in Driebergen to talk about challenges in international learning programs within organizations

Would you like to join our free information and networking meetup on 4 September 2018 about trends and challenges in Learning & Development within an international context? We share our experiences with like-minded professionals such as HR managers, Learning Developers and Managing Directors.

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